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improving the lives of people with brain injury

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Cognitive (thinking) skills include information processing, attention, memory and executive functions.  They are necessary in every activity we do, impacting how we interact with others and how we feel about ourselves. 

It is increasingly apparent that our thinking skills are interlinked, so strategies can be useful to support function across all domains.  Key ideas include:

  • Planning your time, ideally with other members of your household.  Daily and/or weekly ‘family planning meetings’ can be really helpful.
  • Taking regular breaks, as your brain is working harder than you realise, and fatigue is really common after a brain injury.  Without an injury, the brain tends to need a 5 minute break after every 25 minutes of focussed concentration, and longer breaks after 4 cycles of this (the so called ‘Pomodoro Technique’).  After an injury, you may need to adjust these times to suit you, either how long you concentrate for, or how long you take a break for.  The important thing here is to set a target for each amount of time spent concentrating, and check in with the goal at the beginning and end of each session.  This can also help us to stay on track with the main task, maintain motivation and plan our time more realistically!
  • Be clear on your goal – Is it in line with your values?  Does it have a deadline or other constraining factors? How will you know it has been achieved?
  • Break goals down into steps, and plan how you will do each one.  It may be that each step becomes a goal in itself!  Is there more than one way to achieve the goal, and if so, what are the pros and cons of these?
  • Do one thing at a time; you will think best, and remember, in a non-distracting environment, so switch off the radio, put a do not disturb sign on the door, and have a glass of water to hand.
  • Use strategies to help you stay on track, stay organised and remember, such as lists, post-it notes, calendars….you will find we all need to use them, but it is a habit we need to get into.
  • Ask people to slow down, clarify what you have heard, and write it down if you think you won’t remember it.​ PQRST and 5W’s & H are good anchors to help you remember information.
    • Preview, Question, Read, State, Test
    • Who, What, When, Where, Why and How
  • Reading, writing, doing puzzles, watching tv, listening to the radio, will all help build concentration.  For example, you could start with 5 minutes (or less if needed) then take a short break, then do another 5 minutes, and repeat for 30 minutes, then gradually build up how often and for how long you do this  each day.



Although we take every care only to provide the very best resources to our clients and families, we cannot take any responsibility for any difficulties stemming from the use of any of the websites, materials, apps, software etc. offered by third parties. Sometimes links or resources become dated and although we do our best to keep checking that information on these pages are accurate and up to date, we rely on our clients and families to: 

- Let us know if anything is out of date or unhelpful

- Make us aware of additional resources not yet listed here

Please therefore feel free to get in touch via our contact form (see bottom of page) to let us know more about any other resources clients and families like you may benefit from. 




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The Oliver Zangwill Centre

The Princess of Wales Hospital
Lynn Road
United Kingdom

  01353 652165
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